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5 Best Copywriting Formulas for Email Marketing

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This article was last updated on June 7, 2021

When it comes to email marketing, sometimes it’s not about what you say, so much as how you say it. There is a psychology that comes with email marketing and engaging readers enough to take the risk and become a customer. A strategy to consider for using this to your advantage is sometimes called copywriting formulas for email marketing. Here, many marketers use copywriting formulas to help them write faster, more efficiently, and captivate leads. The beauty of copywriting formulas is that they aren’t just limited to email marketing. These tactics can be used in your social media campaigns and content marketing too!

A common theme to note amongst these formulas is that they all start by addressing a problem, which is necessary if you hope to reach a customer and properly engage them. Below, we share a few tried and true copywriting formulas for email marketing that make it easier to convert subscribers into customers.


First: Know What Your Audience Needs

Before you write your first line of copy, you need to identify the pains your customers are experiencing. What are they struggling with? How can you provide a solution to their problem? When you know the answers to these crucial questions and others, you can better write to your customers and their pain points, and it ensures that these best copywriting formulas for email marketing will work.


Formula #1: AIDA

Hailed as the most commonly used formula in copywriting, AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. It serves as the core for a few other copywriting formulas for email marketing on our list due to its effectiveness. For more straightforward emails and landing pages, this tactic is perfect, as it doesn’t require much copy to share an impactful message. Here is how it breaks down:


Attention — Grab the attention of your subscriber and inspire them to read what’s next.

Interest — Focus on the point of interest that gets them to keep them reading.

Desire — Highlight a benefit or prize, which, creates desire and holds their interest.

Action — Encourage them to interact with the call-to-action and move closer to or claim the desired prize.


An excellent example of AIDA is Apple’s email for the debut of its latest model of MacBook Air. With its centered text, the email guides your gaze downward, listing off all the reasons (i.e., features) that come with this new model. It attracts your attention, interests you, and creates a sense of desire within. The last piece is the not-pictured CTA.

Apple AIDA email copywriting formula example



Formula #2: PAS

Quick and straightforward to implement describes this unsuspecting addition to our best copywriting formulas for email marketing list. It is so subtle that its structure may not be visible to those who are unfamiliar with formulas. PAS stands for problem, agitation, and solve and is effective at moving readers to act. It is best used for single email formats and companies that sell products that solve a problem, though it can be used for many situations. And like AIDA, you don’t need a lot of copy to address your reader and motivate them to make a change.


Problem — Gently call out to your customer by identifying a problem they are having, causing them to be slightly frustrated with the issue.

Agitation — Let them know of the stress of not solving their problem the right way, and how you can help.

Solve — Play up your product and its benefits and end it with a high note: an inviting call-to-action.


“P-A-S is a favorite email copywriting formula because it works for all kinds of marketing, from landing pages to flyers.”
– Copywrite Matters



Formula #3: the 4 C’s

This entry on our best copywriting formulas for email marketing list takes a page from journalism’s 4’Cs of compelling copywriting, which says that your message should be clear, concise, compelling, and credible. Employing this strategy encourages you to be purposeful with your wording and respectful of your subscriber’s time. It also allows you to highlight your company’s content, which further boosts your audience’s confidence in your industry knowledge.


Here is how you implement the 4C’s:

Clear — Can your copy be understood by anyone, subscriber or no, who happens upon your email? Use small words, short sentences, defined headers, and bullet points to illustrate your message.

Concise — Knowing your message ensures that you keep your message short and sweet while getting your point across.

Compelling — Grab your target audience with exciting, relevant content that addresses their needs, wants, and problems.

Credible — Be sure to build credibility when nurturing leads and engaging existing customers by featuring customer testimonials, tips and tricks, promotions, and industry news.



Formula #4: Storytelling

Possibly the most informal one of our best copywriting formulas for email marketing is the storytelling method. However, it can also be one of the most engaging approaches out there when used correctly. What makes this formula so powerful is that storytelling can be used to inspire, encourage, persuade, and so much more.

If storytelling is on-brand for you, use it as a vehicle to show your subscribers why they should choose your company over a competitor. Let your customer be the character or the story, the conflict or driving force be their problems, and the triumphant moment is your product. There are many ways that you can weave a tale to attract more customers; you just have to find your inner wordsmith.

Favorite companies like Tom’s Shoes and Huckberry are notorious for their story-based emails highlighting their vision and directly addressing a specific reader audience. Notice the attention to detail used to paint a picture of what they can expect when subscribers buy from them.

Huckberry email copywriting formula example



Formula #5: BAB

Last but certainly not least is the BAB formula, which can stand for before after bridge, or bridge after bridge. Despite two different names, the procedure is still the same. With this method, you invite your subscribers to bond with your company over a shared problem. And with help from your copywriting formula, you not only encourage them to dream of better days where their problem no longer exists, but you also make it a reality. Let us show you how it works:


Before — Start by describing the problem the customer has before being introduced to your product or service.

After — Shift their focus to a world where this problem is a thing of the past.

Bridge — Describe how you got from A to B using your product as the bridge.


A less obvious example of a before-after bridge formula is the marketing email from Marketing Brew. The email sets up the idea that readers have been wondering what to expect with this year’s Super Bowl commercials, and if you weren’t thinking about them, now you are. The next piece is to have you imagining the moment after you get caught up on the news. Finally, they use their news roundup as the bridge to your dilemma, saving you the trouble of doing the research yourself. Clever!

Marketing brew email copywriting formula example



Finding the best way to reach and engage your subscribers and convert them to customers takes strategy. Although our roundup of the best copywriting formulas for email marketing only showcased a few structures, we hope that they inspire you to view your email marketing campaigns differently and implement new strategies to grow your business. If you need help designing your emails, let MailBakery be of service. Working together, we can bring your visions to life and create stunning, brand-specific email templates that captivate and convert.

Ready to get started? Contact our team, and let’s get in the kitchen!